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tv   Nightline  ABC  November 12, 2010 11:35pm-12:05am EST

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tonight on "nightline," snatchback. he's a hunter, an exsoldier who travels on missions of utmost secrecy. his job is to help parents snatch their children back when the other parent has taken him. our camera is with him on the hardest mission yet, to get these third children back to their mother. a costly lesson. four colleges attract students with the promise of hot jobs. what do the recruiters leave out. our hidden cameras get the story. and who killed zahra.
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they have found the remains of zahra baker, the missing 10-year-old who had lost her leg and most of her hearing to bone cancer. now the question is, who did it? >> good evening. i'm terry moran. we're going to begin tonight with a mission that is part commando mission and part custody battle. they are men paid to go to foreign custody, find children, and bring them back. it's called the snatchback. >> that's the building the man lives in, right there. >> he is for all intents, a hunter. >> let's go. >> and his prey takes him from the jungles of the amazon. >> i prefer a condo. i think that's better for me. >> to the malls of costa rica.
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>> i found the boyfriend living in costa rica under an assumed name. we followed him. >> one week he's in ukraine. >> that's the bench she was seen sitting at. >> 96, he's haggiling over boat. >> it's not tourist season, but it's got large boats. >> gus zamora travels the world hunting children. >> are you happy to be going home? good. >> specifically, american children. >> this boy was 6 years old and taken to venezuela. >> taken from one parent and takes overseas. once he finds the children, he specializeden what is known as the snatchback. >> how many children have you snatched back. >> 55. >> ever been arrested? >> no. >> ever been shot at? >> no. >> why the pause?
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>> i have been in situations where yes, there have been people taking shots at people at random, and those kiechbdz things happen, but in 99% of the casess, that's not the case. >> his fondness for night vision goggle goggles, risky border crossings, and fees that can reach $100,000, all add a definite mystique to gus and his work. >> take your passport, make sheer we have passports with us. >> but he's more of a lawyer than a spy, more a psychologist than a ninja, and his biggest problem is often his own clients. >> what kind of people come to you, what sort of state are they in emotionally? >> they're damaged. they have gone through emotional stress. gone through the trauma of losing a child, and every parent that i see exhibited the same
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type of emotional distress. >> we have seen that first hand as "nightline" follows a single case that has unraveled for more than a year. the mission, getting three young kid back from their father in a muslim country. it is complicated, and it began with a cry for help from a grandmother in maine. >> gus' name came up. >> she was calling on behalf of her daughter who fell in love with a jordanian man a decade before. >> we met on internet. ee was in jordan and i was in the u.s. >> she converted to islam, and they had three children before the marriage fell apart. shortly after separating -- >> he sent me a text message saying he had taken the kids and gone back to jordan. >> where was furious to think he would do that because i really didn't think he would. >> now comes the decision for gus. >> we want to make sure we
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expend every opportunity to get all three of them legally in our poti possession. >> beyond that, he relies on a background check and his gut. your stock and trade is essentially he said/she said stories. and you're always hearing just one side of the story. how to you know you're operating in the best interests of the child? >> i don't take a parent's word for anything anymore. i have been duped in the past. i tell my clients to their face, i tell them, you're not my client. my client is that child. >> after confirmed heidi does havecustody, he takes the chase and we follow him to jordan. first step, set up residence for heidi without mohammed catching on. they tell him mom is skiyping from america. casey mohammed's home, gus
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concludes that snatching the kids from their father is too risky. >> this is the alleyway leading to the house, only way in, only way out. the home has absolutely no view to the outside street. >> they decide that heidi should sue for custody in court. >> there's the grandmother, the mother, and the attorney. that's the thing, to make sure that we use every legal means available and have everything properly done in our hands, documentation, and be able to leave in an expedient manner. >> they are confident because the law favors the mother. >> i if i was christian and tried to get custody of my children, it probably wouldn't happen. >> if she does get the children, the court will ask that she remain in jordan. >> gus has a different plan,
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once they get the kids, they'll flee as soon as possible. >> if we can find him today, we'll take the children when he getsome from school. >> whatever he tells us to do, we'll do. sometimes it's hard because you think otherwise, but you have to trust him. >> but will it work? find out when we come back. first is fast. first is 4g, but plays nice with 3g as well. first has an 8-megapixel hd camera and can stream live video to the web. first has an hdmi out. ♪ first shares wi-fi with 8 devices at once. first is not stephen furst, who played flounder in animal house. first has a kickstand for watching video. what will you do first with evo, the first 4g phone? only from sprint, the now network. deaf, hard-of-hearing and people with speech disabilities access www.sprintrelay.com. achoo!
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so we return now to the snatchback, former army ranger gus zamora has tracked three children to their father's home in jordan, but then he has to figure out how to get his clients out of the country and back to the u.s. without raising the suspicions of the jordanian authorities. after days in jordan, the snatchback team is getting anxious. gus thinks he can get fresh american passports for the quids. >> for a younger child, it may be possible. >> but he's weary of the
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airports. >> if we can't get visas on the passports or if there's a block put on, they're not going to be able to leave through the airport or the border crossing or any legal means which means we'll have to get creative and find a plan to get them out. >> they'll either drive through the desert and walk over the border to israel. >> we had gone to safeway to get the kids backpacks to have something to put stuff in. >> or hire boats in the red sea into egypt. >> then we got them some snacks, and i got them each a book. >> the plan snags on jordanian red tape. >> this is actually a window in one of the courts. those are files. that's why things are real slow here. >> it seems like every day, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. something goes wrong. >> what kind of skills do you need to do this job well? what kind of traits? >> patience. that's number one. the american embassy, do you know where that is at? there's only one.
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>> gus is quickly losing the ability to practice what he preaches. >> you tell him i want him to stop driving like a [ bleep ] maniac. i want him to slow down. >> gus is not patient. >> he wants heidi and geneva to charm him into letting his guard down. >> they won't lie. it infuriates us. we want to get back together, i'm still in love with you. no matter what you have done, we can work it out. those are things that people would say to get their children back. these women have found it difficult within themselves to even lie. >> meanwhile, back in the states, geneva's husband is packing up their baltimore home. renting it out will provide refunds. >> i look at it as being illegal. it's not something you want to do. it's not something you want to put the kids through as far as
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having them be snatched away, brought away from their parent under those circumstances. no, i don't think i would ever would have guessed we wuere goig to have to resort to this. it's yet to be seen whether it works. >> back in jordan, nothing is working as planned. there's not enough time, not enough money. >> okay, so -- >> all right. >> we'll see you. >> gus and geneva know they have to go home, but heidi refuses to leave without her babies, and after several desperate weeks, she decides to move in with her estranged husband. drop her custody claims and cut off contact with gus. >> there are those people out there that do say, oh, my god. how could she live in the same house with him. you'll do anything for your kids. >> for months, mohammed keeps a weary eye on his wife, but one
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night when he sleeps, heidi sees her chance. grabs the kids and runs. >> i took the kids, we got in the car downstairs and drove to the embassy. >> in an act of great courage, heidi has staged her own snatchback. but she still has no way to get out of the country. and after a court appearance with the entire family, mohammed once again snatches ahmed, the son, and takes off. >> it was very traumat frequent him. he didn't even want his father to take his hand. he try today get around the car. >> i'm scared that i'm not going to see my son. >> i don't believe he's going to return the son, and i don't believe anything the legal system will do even if they find him and capture him, hietz rr fought going to give his son up. >> he's now a fugitive and it's been more than a month since heidi has seen or heard from her little boy. each months, she and her
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daughters bar the door with furniture in fear of her husband's return. >> right now, there's really not much else we can do. >> obviously there is something else they can do. >> gus sees only one gut-wrenching solution. leave the boy and get away with her girls while she still can. >> she has possession of two children. she has her freedom. she can move around freely. she could bring the children home. >> it's a messy, tragic stalemate. >> how about this party dress? >> but for gus, frustration is an occupational hazard. what are your guarantees? >> there are no guarantees. we tell the parents straight up, there are no guarantees. we're clandestinely going into a country to recover a child from the hands of an abductor. because of that, there is a high degree of risk. >> there are other things to plan. with some 10,000 similar cases,
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the system is jams with desperate parents. >> nobody would do anything. >> some just desperate enough to call gus. well, heidi and her family are still waiting for a resolution to that case. best of luck to all of them and thanks to bill for that report wroorb. up next, for profit colleges we're going to talk about. they're a big business that makes big promises to their prospective students, but are the graduates really getting their money's worth? we investigate. dear corolla, it must be hard. you never considered making turn-by-turn navigation standard. if you want to talk about it.. call me when you get there. that is if you find there, since you don't have turn-by-turn navigation standard. the all-new chevrolet cruze. starting under $17,000. get used to more. qualified lessees can get a low mileage lease on a 2011 chevrolet cruze ls for around $169 a month. call for details.
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$24 billion, that's how much the biggest for profit colleges in this country took in last year in federally funded student aid money. many students enroll, thinking they have found a fast track to the american dream, but all these schools delivering on their promises? tonight, chris cuomo reports as "nightline" investigates. >> larry stewart is a former criminal justice teeacher from for profit college. >> i had a guy talk to me about enrolling who was currently facing an aggravated robbery charge. >> larry who asks not to reveal his face, said he was shocked to find several felons sitting in his class. >> my first class, i had a husband and wife who he had done
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13 years in the department of corrections for a home invasion, robbery, and his wife had done three years for trafficking drugs across state lines. >> larry said the felons told him that they had been told by recruiters that they could work in law enforcement, and generally, that isn't true. >> i said, and you want to do what? they said, we want to get into criminal justice. i said, you could never get a job in criminal justice. they said, well, the recruiter said we can. >> we wanted to find out for ourselves what the recruiters would say. so we sent in a felon to try to enroll in the program. >> i have a felony from 2005. >> 2005, okay. and what is it in. >> theft. >> okay. >> another recruiter didn't even seem phased to hear that our person had a criminal record. >> we will definitely work with
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you, especially when we know it up front. that helps us a lot. can i tell you honestly that we have placed people in different jobs before? yes, with backgrounds, yes. >> the recruiter told him he couldn't be a cop, but there were a variety of opportunities in law enforcement for people with felony convictions. >> sheriffs, corrections, jailers. we put everybody in all of those places all the time. >> but we checked and that is not true. a person with a felony conviction can't work for any sheriff's department in texas or generally as a border patrol agent which the recruiter also suggested was the case. >> even border patrol, you can do that because it's still in the realm of criminal justice. >> a spokesperson said before students enrole, they must sign
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this document acknowledging they may not be able to work in law enforcement with a criminal record. the recruiter made her statement months after they said for-profit schools were trying to clean up their act. >> why are you under fire. >> because of poor training, because of rogue employees or the wrong message above. for whatever reason, it's too widespread, and we're going to change that. >> we found remington wasn't the only college trying to sell our undercover student a bill of goods. we also sent an undercover student to devry in new york. >> last year, 88% of oufr graduates were working in their field. 88% in 2009, i guess depending on where you come from, but with
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the economy, most people look at that as a good rate. >> that 88% number is grossly misleading. based on the documents they provided us, many of the graduates were already in the jobs devry is taking credit for. they told abc news they make no apologies for including these students and also said if the adviser didn't follow our procedure, we apologize and we'll work to correct that. >> we have a zero tolerance. that means every once in a while, you have to dismiss employees. >> and you have to do it obseit i come and call you. if you have to be caught every time, you're never going to improve. >> absolutely. >> critics say the reason these for profit schools are keen to enroll students is big money.
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>> top for profit colleges like devry,i remington, and phoenix received $24 billion from student aid money last year, and tuition at for profit schools can run over $20,000 a year. in fact, the university of phoenix had enough cash to pay $150 million to have its name on a football stadium. unlike most universities, though, you're tied to a stock prais price, and you have wall street pressure on you to bring in money. you recruit almost like no other university system. isn't that the bottom line, for you, it's profit first? >> no, it can't be profit first. if you're not turning out a quality student, you're not going to be able to continue in business. students have choices. they don't have to go to one of our institutions. they could chose to go to a state college, a community college. so unless we can show quality
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outcomes, cystsystematically, there's no way the schools would be able to continue to operate. >> we did learn something encouraging. last august, our hidden cameras uncovered a problem at the nation's largest for-profit school, the university of phoenix. >> i can go to the university of phoenix, do my bachelor's degrees and 100% for sure, i can go to texas or new york and sit for those exams and once i finish those exams -- >> then you can teach. >> i can teach? >> yes, that is true. >> and what the recruiter told our producer at that time wasn't true. you can't be a public school teacher in new york or texas by getting your degree at the university of phoenix. but it seems our initial investigation did provoke some positive change at the school. we sent an undercover producer back twice recently, and both times, the recruiter didn't say anything misleading to our producers. >> if you live in the state of new york, we can't enroll for
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education for you because the new york requirement for education is totally different than what we can enroll for. >> still, larry said his experience at remington makes him skeptical. he says so many of the for-profit schools are making so much money, it may be hard to change their ways. >> they're more concerned about the bottom line, what is the bottom figure on the student? they look at how much money did we make this term or this quarter. >> this is chris cuomo for "nightline." >> so let the student buyer beware. thanks to chris for that report. >> here is jimmy kimmel with what is coming up next. jimmy? tonight, will ferrell, manny pacquiao, music from good sharl lt, and we trick for treaters. jimmy kimmel
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